Award-winning regional network organized by Norton Healthcare works to quickly treat the most deadly type of heart attack

Hospitals in the Louisville region partner with Norton to give their patients access to the care.

Norton Healthcare has received the American Heart Association‘s 2019 Mission: Lifeline Regional Trailblazer Award for its regional program that provides care for a certain type of heart attack that is deadly if not treated quickly. Norton was Kentucky’s only winner of the award this year, reports The Lane Report.

The program is designed to treat a type of deadly heart attack called an acute ST elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI heart attack. ST is the distance between two junctures of an electrocardiogram.

“A STEMI heart attack begins with a sudden disruption of a mild cholesterol plaque in the wall of the coronary artery that supplies blood the heart. This leads to a buildup of a clot in an attempt to heal it. However, this clot formation results in total blockage of the artery,” Dr. Vipul R. Panchal, interventional cardiologist with Norton Heart & Vascular Institute, and medical director of interventional cardiology at Norton Brownsboro Hospital, told The Lane Report.

“It usually occurs in an artery with only mild blockage initially and can occur suddenly without warning. Unfortunately, the rapid progression to total blockage leads to loss of blood supply to the heart. The heart muscle stops working within minutes of this and dies within minutes to hours unless the artery can be opened back up.”

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With a STEMI heart attack, quick intervention is important to restore blood flow. Diagnosis requires an electrocardiogram, and treatment requires an emergent cardiac catheterization to open the blocked artery or to administer clot-busting medication directly to the artery — but not every hospital has emergency cardiac catheterization capability.

To combat this issue, Norton Heart & Vascular Institute established a regional STEMI network to ensure that patients from across the region have access to this lifesaving care. The network includes 12 community hospitals, emergency ground and air medical services, and three Norton Healthcare STEMI-ready hospitals, notes The Lane Report: “The goal of the network is to stabilize patients wherever they seek help and transport them to one of the receiving hospitals for cardiac catheterization to restore blood flow to the coronary artery as quickly as possible.”

Panchal told The Lane Report that in 2018 Norton Healthcare had a median time of 46 minutes for its care of STEMI heart attack patients; the AHA’s goal is 90 minutes or less from the time a patient seeks help to an intervention to restore blood flow.

“We see dramatically different outcomes depending on the time it takes to restore blood flow,” Panchal said.

Norton Heart & Vascular Institute STEMI Network members in Kentucky are: Breckinridge Health, Hardinsburg; Carroll County Memorial Hospital, Carrollton; Flaget Memorial Hospital, Bardstown; Jane Todd Crawford Hospital, Greensburg; Louisville VA Medical CenterSpring View Hospital, Lebanon; Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center, Leitchfield; and Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, Louisville. Four of the hospitals are in Indiana: Harrison County Hospital, Corydon; King’s Daughters Health, Madison; Clark Memorial Health, Jeffersonville; and Scott Memorial Health, Scottsburg.

The network receiving hospitals are Norton Audubon Hospital, Norton Brownsboro Hospital, and Norton Hospital. All three receiving hospitals have been recognized by the American Heart Association with Mission: Lifeline STEMI Receiving Center Gold awards.

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